Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Ebenezer and Thomas"

(a repeat from 2013, with further considerations)

    Allow me to express a pet peeve.  Or two, actually.

    I cannot abide Ebenezer Scrooge being viewed as the symbol for mean, miserly, and cold-hearted curmudgeons who possess no caring or compassion for their fellow man.  Nor can I abide an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ who ultimately gave his life for the Savior being referred to as "doubting Thomas."

    "If any man be in Christ, he is as a new creature.  Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).

    Whether in Charles Dickens' literature or the Bible's historical reality, our focus should not rest upon that which was, but rather, that which is.  In Ebenezer's case, his journeys through the past, present, and future led to his becoming the man who most knew how to keep Christmas.  His story powerfully depicts miraculous redemption and change.  Thus, when we hear the name "Scrooge," kindness and generosity should come to mind in joyful remembrance of transforming grace and mercy.

    In the case of the Apostle Thomas, a far serious matter presents itself.  Certainly, he once expressed the fleshly "I'll believe it when I see it" sensibility that characterizes all of us at times.  "
Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).  Moreover, the risen Lord Jesus chided his disciple for such uncertainty: "Then saith He to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).  However, the episode ends with Thomas expressing to his Savior one of the great affirmations of truth recorded in Scripture.  "My Lord and my God!" he pronounces the Lord Jesus.  Moreover, historical tradition holds that Thomas gave his life for Christ at the point of a spear.  I would therefore maintain that rather than "doubting Thomas," we should respectfully view our brother of old as "faithful Thomas," and a man who wears the martyr's crown for the glory of the Lord Jesus.

    Ebenezer and Thomas also elicit attention concerning a more personal matter.  Do we as believers view ourselves in terms of who we were, or who we are?  God looks upon us not as in terms of our past history as servants of sin, but rather as who we are in Christ as His sons and daughters of righteousness.  "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8).  We must share this blessed view of His saving grace, whether we consider a transformed literary figure, a redeemed saint who gave the last full measure of devotion for his Lord, or ourselves in Christ.  "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  Ebenezer and Thomas - may we remember them as who they became.  And let us affirm ourselves as who we are, and who we are becoming through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?   Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
(I Corinthians 6:9-11)
"He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
    I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
(Psalm 4:8)


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